Although it’s now been a week that I’m back from MICCAI I haven’t had the time to sit down and write the really important posts that I promised several people to write. But to nevertheless share something useful, I’ve documented my packing process for a week of conference travel, with just a carry-on!
I decided to go carry-on only in 2012, when travelling to Japan for a conference, for a trip that lasted two weeks in total. I think it was then that I researched how to actually achieve this, so I looked at lots of packing tips, mixing and matching outfits. Pinterest is pretty great for this:
It’s also when I started printing posters on fabric.
I liked the approach so much that I don’t think I ever checked luggage for a trip afterwards. Since the items I bring for each trip are similar (not the items themselves, but their types and quantity), I like to think I have gotten quite efficient at the process.
Of course there are much more beautiful posts about packing, but I give you my very real, non-Instagram quality packing process: (WordPress was kind enough to rotate the images to random orientations as well).
Preparation: Get a good carry-on
This is step 0 because you only have to do it once, so it doesn’t really count as a step. I have a lightweight Samsonite carry-on. I cannot find the exact model online anymore, but here’s a pretty similar one on Amazon:
The most important feature for me is that the size is accepted by all airlines.
Step 1: Small flat items
Now for the packing! First, I fill in the gaps between the handles of the bag.
I usually put some smaller, but flat items, such as ballerinas/flats and underwear (in plastic bags, not shown).
Step 2: Jacket
Now that the bottom is a bit evened out, I put in my blazer/jacket part of a suit. I admit this probably only works if you are short, like me.
Step 3. Add bigger “packs”
Next I add bigger “packs” of shoes or clothes. I do not use any packing cubes, but instead I roll my clothes (bonus: no ironing needed). In the picture below I added 3 “packs”:
- Running shoes (with socks to fill the empty space)
- Bottoms (1 pair of jeans, 2 skirts, 1 pyjama pants)
- Tops (2 long-sleeve things, 3 things with short or no sleeves)
Step 4. Add smaller “packs”
Now I also added:
- A “pack” of running shorts, shirt and a cap
- A MICCAI 2017 umbrella, a gift from the conference
And now also:
- Toiletries in a 1 liter transparent bag
- Chargers and other small electronics in a waterproof bag
Step 5: Leave a bit of space
Now that all the main things are in the suitcase, I fold back the sleeves of the jacket so it stays in a nice shape:
It looks now like the suitcase is full, but that is not really the case. I can still put items on top, and easy close it.
I do this because I also have a personal item (A4-sized shoulder bag) which fits my laptop and a few small items I want to use on the plane. Most airlines allow this, but I still get nervous that I would need to check in the carry-on because I have two bags in total. So, I make sure the whole personal item fits into the carry-on!
For aesthetic purposes, here is a picture of the two biggest items from my shoulder bag inside the suitcase: my laptop and Travelrest travel pillow. But the bag itself with the smaller items (wallet, headphones etc) still fits on top.
And no, I didn’t pack the cat 🙂
How do you travel for conferences? If you check luggage, would you consider going with just a carry-on instead? I would love to hear your thoughts!